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Lab test of Subway tuna sandwiches fails to detect tuna DNA

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Mestemia, Jun 23, 2021.

  1. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    A lab analysis commissioned by the New York Times found no identifiable tuna DNA in Subway’s tuna sandwich, according to the newspaper.

    In its own statement, the fast-food giant fired back at the report and said it was not a "reliable way" to test processed tuna.

    A Times reporter bought more than 60 inches of Subway tuna sandwiches from three different locations in Los Angeles. The reporter, who ordered the sandwiches without vegetables, cheese or dressing, packed the tuna meat into Ziploc bags and stuffed them in a styrofoam shipping cooler with ice packs to be tested, the report said.

    ...

    After more than a month, the lab returned the results and said it found that "no amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA."

    "Therefore, we cannot identify the species," the food testing lab, which did not want to be named, told the Times.

    A lab spokesperson offered further analysis to the newspaper, saying there were two different conclusions from the test.

    "One, it’s so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn’t make an identification. Or we got some and there’s just nothing there that’s tuna," the lab spokesperson said.

    ...

    Subway’s tuna sandwiches are also not the first product questioned by customers. In 2014, Subway made headlines for announcing the removal of the controversial chemical azodiacarbonamide, also found in yoga mats, from its bread products.

    Lab test of Subway tuna sandwiches fails to detect tuna DNA, report says
    --------------------------------------------

    What I find interesting is these two bits from the article:

    "A recent New York Times report indicates that DNA testing is an unreliable methodology for identifying processed tuna. This report supports and reflects the position that Subway has taken in relation to a meritless lawsuit filed in California and with respect to DNA testing as a means to identify cooked proteins. DNA testing is simply not a reliable way to identify denatured proteins, like Subway’s tuna, which was cooked before it was tested," a Subway spokesperson said in part.
    And this:

    In February, Inside Edition commissioned its own Subway tuna sandwich test after purchasing three sandwiches from locations in New York. The outlet sent samples to a lab in Florida that specializes in DNA testing of fish, which found that the substance was "definitely" tuna.

    So now the question I have is how reliable is the information being given in the article?
     
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  2. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Its a bad way to test. Instead have expert taste testers decide what it is, then have a lab test its nutritional value, then have a lab do a spectroscopic test to see what sorts of chemicals if any are in it.
     
  3. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    Im not saying that its wrong, don't really know anything about it, but just googled DNA and processed food, and it does seem like there are issues with it, but I don't know enough about DNA testing and if there are different methods and ways to do it. :)

    Abstract
    DNA analysis of processed foods is performed widely to detect various targets, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food processing often causes DNA fragmentation, which consequently affects the results of PCR analysis. In order to assess the effects of DNA fragmentation on the reliability of PCR analysis, we investigated a novel methodology to quantify the degree of DNA fragmentation. We designed four real-time PCR assays that amplified 18S ribosomal RNA gene sequences common to various plants at lengths of approximately 100, 200, 400, and 800 base pairs (bp). Then, we created an indicator value, “DNA fragmentation index (DFI)”, which is calculated from the Cq values derived from the real-time PCR assays. Finally, we demonstrated the efficacy of this method for the quality control of GMO detection in processed foods by evaluating the relationship between the DFI and the limit of detection.

    However It is not uncommon for newspapers to get science wrong or to explain things slightly wrong or inaccurate, both unintentionally and on purpose. A good example, is that you may read an article and the headline say something like "The gene for <something> have been found." That is a newspaper way of catching your attention and write it in a way so common people understand it and find it interesting. But from what I know, it is not actually how genes works.
    But people don't want to read a long scientific explanation, where they don't understand half of it, like the abstract above :) so the article might suffer from the same, it's not necessarily wrong, but is dumped down so to speak.

    Again, it might be wrong or it could simply be that it would be to long and to boring of an article to explain it correctly.
     
  4. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    Are there really tuna taste experts out there?
    And can they tell the difference between the 15 types of fish the FDA says can be legally marketed as tuna?

    dfghaetha.JPG
    {Image is a link to the FDA website it was taken from}
     
  5. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue Twilight, not bright nor dark, good nor bad.

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    I heard that too. I wouldn't put past Subway to fraudulently lie about their sandwiches.

    They did lie in the past about their footlong being a foot long as well, from what I recall.

    On the other hand, the test itself seems a tad inconclusive givin the small samples taken and tested.

    Tunagate.. to be continued.
     
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  6. SigurdReginson

    SigurdReginson Grēne Mann
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    How is tuna from a tuna sandwich not an already contaminated sample?... o_O The thing is slathered in mayo!
     
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  7. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    I'll never eat Subway again! [​IMG]

    Hang on....I never ate Subway in the first place.....better just call it a fish samich....eh?

    I wonder what fish order at Subway....?

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Veteran Member

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    I used to like Subway as a kid. The last sandwich I had, though, was a chicken one and the fajita chicken tasted like the smell of a wet dog.
     
  9. Meerkat

    Meerkat He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy.

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    Oh, my Cod! I feel eel.
     
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  10. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Which article? The one from Fux that you link to, or the original article in the NYT?

    The original NYT article was about a class action law suit being brought against Subway on the grounds that its products allegedly don't contain tuna. This lawsuit, according to the NYT article, seemed to rely on DNA analysis (which is dubious, since cooking denatures DNA). In the course of that very long article about it all, the reporter attempted to duplicate the lab findings of no identifiable tuna DNA, by commissioning her own tests, which also came back -ve. But what she had to say about that is this:

    "
    The Lab Results
    Finally, after more than a month of waiting, the lab results arrived.

    “No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA,” the email read. “Therefore, we cannot identify the species.”

    The spokesman from the lab offered a bit of analysis. “There’s two conclusions,” he said. “One, it’s so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn’t make an identification. Or we got some and there’s just nothing there that’s tuna.” (Subway declined to comment on the lab results.)

    Inside Edition sent samples from three Subway locations in Queens out for testing earlier this year, the lab found that the specimens were, indeed, tuna.

    Even the plaintiffs have softened their original claims. In a new filing from June, their complaints centered not on whether Subway’s tuna was tuna at all, but whether it was “100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.”

    With all testing, there are major caveats to consider. Once tuna has been cooked, its DNA becomes denatured — meaning that the fish’s characteristic properties have likely been destroyed, making it difficult, if not impossible, to identify.

    All of the people I spoke with also questioned why Subway would swap out its tuna.

    “I don’t think a sandwich place would intentionally mislabel,” Mr. Rudie from Catalina Offshore Products said. “They’re buying a can of tuna that says ‘tuna.’ If there’s any fraud in this case, it happened at the cannery.”

    Peter Horn, the director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, agreed that it would be difficult to place blame on Subway if this were the case.

    “In the defense of Subway, or quite a lot of these fishmongers, the further you get the fish from the bone, the harder it is to recognize what that fish is,” he said.


    “Most of us see the fish on the bone, skin intact, and we can recognize what sort of fish that is,” he continued. “You drop the head and the tail off, it becomes more difficult, but you can still probably recognize it. You take the skin off it, you take it off the bone and you cut it into slices then you’re only sort of saying, ‘Right, what’s the color and texture?’”

    Mr. Sutton, the food critic, suggested that this incident could encourage consumers to take more interest in where their food comes from.

    “I would hope that an issue like this would cause more people across the country and all across the world to spend more time thinking about every step of the environmental, labor and economic supply chains that supply their food,” he said.

    And even as Subway’s prices have risen beyond the days of $5 footlongs, Mr. Horn said the company’s notably cheap sandwiches raise more important questions than the integrity of their tuna.

    “We can’t just continue to have a downward pressure on the price,” Mr. Horn said, “because if we all want everything at rock bottom prices, that means something, somewhere is going to be exploited, whether that’s people or the ocean — probably both.”



    So there you have it. Even the original claimants have retreated from alleging there is no tuna in Subway products. Now they are alleging just that Subway's claims about the type of tuna etc are invalid.

    Anyone reading the NYT article would be left with a fairly clear understanding of all this (though the article is far too long and tedious for this non-story - seems to have been written by Philippa Page:rolleyes:).

    As for the Fux article, well, I don't expect much from them by way of veracity. I'm slightly surprised to find you reading it, actually.
     
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  11. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Some could tell whether it was tuna or not. 15 types might be difficult to train for.
     
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  12. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    I think I can understand that.
    I can tell you if the cheez-it you hand me is an actual real cheez-it or a generic cheez-it, but I can not tell you what the specific off brand is.
    Same with M&M's.
    The plain ones anyway.
     
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  13. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I guess...you could train a cat to tell which kind of tuna, or perhaps a herd of cats. You could train 15 cats, each specializing in 1 species of tuna.
     
  14. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    It seems like a classic tabloid example of all the individual statements being technically true but their being selected and presented in a way that implies a misleading or unproven conclusion.
     
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  15. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    In any case, the whole idea is stupid.

    Tinned tuna is dirt cheap in the first place and a brand like Subway has far too much to lose by misrepresenting as tuna something that isn't, when any savings would be minimal compared to the reputational damage.

    And the way the claim in the suit has now been so radically changed strongly suggests either a frivolous suit or else some kind of ambulance-chasing wheeze, in the hope of extracting money from a large corporation on whatever pretext they can.

    Everyone likes to support the little guy against the big corporation. But sometimes the little guy is a turd.;)
     
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  16. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    If you buy cheap sandwiches, cheap sandwiches is what you get.
    I do not see a problem with that.
    Bulk, cheap and highly processed Tuna is likely to be unidentifiable.
    But that does not mean that it is not tasty and adequately nourishing.
    However what else it contains is anyone's guess.
    probably not a good Idea as a regular meal.
     
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  17. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    When I was in the States I once tried a Subway sandwich. It was horrible, but mainly due to the awful, sugary, synthetic-tasting bread they use. I have given Subway a wide berth ever since.
     
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  18. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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  19. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    I'm guessing you've not heard of the truism involving the words "herd" and "cats." :D
     
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  20. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I set you up for the spike.
     
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